Fancy Restaurants and Flower Shops Hit Hard by Anti-Corruption Law
SEOUL, Feb. 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's draconian anti-graft law has hit flower shops, bars and karaoke rooms hard since its implementation in September last year due to decreased use of corporate credit cards there, data showed Thursday.
However, overall use of company credit cards has increased nearly 7 percent on-year, indicating the law's negative impact on private consumption has not been as great as previously feared.
According to the data by the Credit Finance Association and the credit card industry, use of corporate credit cards at local flower shops sank 11.3 percent during the October-December period from a year earlier.
The tumble came as companies avoided sending "congratulatory" flowers following the law's implementation. In South Korea, it has been customary to send a basket of flowers or a pot of orchids to congratulate people on promotions. Sending huge flower easels to weddings or funerals has been common as well.
Use of company cards at bars and karaoke rooms also dropped 11.2 percent and 5.4 percent on-year, respectively, with golf courses registering a 5.2-percent decline.'
In contrast, use of corporate credit cards at low- to mid-end restaurants edged up 1.8 percent during the three-month period from a year earlier, with expensive ones suffering setbacks.
Over the cited period, the overall amount of corporate credit card bills climbed 6.9 percent on-year, with use of individual credit cards rising 9.3 percent.
In terms of sales, bars and karaoke rooms were hit hardest as they saw sales from both individual and corporate credit cards fall 6.6 percent and 2.7 percent each from a year earlier, according to the data.
The law, which took effect on Sept. 28, bans public servants, educators and journalists from receiving free meals valued over 30,000 won (US$26.20), gifts worth more than 50,000 won or congratulatory or condolence money of more than 100,000 won.
Public officials -- including educators and journalists -- are also barred from receiving any financial or other advantage in connection to their duties, regardless of whether such an offer is given in exchange for favors.
Violators face a maximum sentence of three years in jail and a fine of up to 30 million won. The anti-corruption law, which aims to root out corruption and irregularities existing in South Korean society, affects some 4 million people.